Amstrad Set Top Box Reviews
Amstrad DRX890 Sky Plus HD Digibox
We had been Sky customers since 2008, but around a year ago we were offered an excellent deal by their rival Virgin Media so we decided to switch over. When we rang up Sky TV to leave they offered us an even better deal to stay with them which included this brand new Sky+ HD box, so we ended up sticking with Sky and have been more than ... pleased with them.
A few weeks after sorting out our new contract a Sky engineer came out to set our new box up for us and put our old box in our bedroom. The engineer was efficient and the set up only took around half an hour, he quickly showed me how to use the new box before he left.
I really like the look of the new box especially compared to our previous silver one. The Sky+ HD box is mostly black in colour with a silver panel at the front, it looks sleek an modern and matches my black TV and Consoles well. It does occasionally get a little dusty or mucky but I find a quick wipe over with a damp cloth and its looking as good as new. There are a few buttons on the front, in the centre is a circle with a stop and play symbols inside, these light up during playback which looks really cool. There is also a red record button, play, pause, stop, forward and rewind button none of which we really use as we always just use the remote control. The stand by button illuminates green when on and yellow when off.
The menu is set out very well and it didn't take me long to get to grips with it. Along the top there are 9 tabs - Tv guide, planner, on demand, box office, search, radio, interactive, parental, options and settings. The date and time are also clearly displayed, plus there is the option of having a small screen in the left hand corner, so you can still watch your show whilst navigating the menu.
The TV guide is really easy to navigate and planning the weeks tv is really simple, again there are tabs along the top which make it even easier to find what you are looking for (eg. News, movies, sport). I tend to just use the "all channels" tab, but occasionally I will use the "HD channel" tab too. To record something you simply press the red R button on the remote control, you will be given the option to record once or record the series, I really like this function as it means I never miss my favourite shows as each episode will automatically be recorded for me. Only two programmes can be recorded at the same time.
~ Planner ~
This is where all the recorded shows are kept, there is a line along the top which shows the percentage of memory left which is really helpful, I don't think we have ever reached the full capacity and there really is plenty of room on there for our needs. TV shows and series are automatically put into folders, which keeps the menu nice and tidy as well as making them easier to locate. There is also the option of putting locks on recordings to prevent them getting accidentally deleted. Deleted recordings will go to the "deleted" folder and will automatically be deleted after a certain period.
~ On Demand ~
On Demand is basically "catch up TV" were you can access anything you might have missed, plus there are box sets of various TV shows to watch too. To get the most out of the On Demand services it is recommended that the Sky box is connected up to the router, either the router needs to be connected via an ethernet cable or a specific dongle can be bought. We have done neither, so our On Demand service is pretty basic, however I have found most of the content is available via the SkyGo app anyways.
~ Box Office ~
This is where the latest movies can be purchased from, prices start from 99p but the newest movies tend to be around the £4 mark . I have only purchased a movie once from the box office, it was a movie I had been dying to see, plus it was on offer at the time, so a little cheaper than the usual cost. Personally I find the Box Office a little expensive and I just wait until they are shown on Sky movies.
~ Search ~
I find the search function really useful if you are looking for a specific programme, its certainly easier than scrolling through the TV guide. Simply type in the title, genre or sub genre of what you want with the remote control.
~ Radio ~
This tab accesses all the guide for all the available radio stations, its really easy to scroll through.
~ Interactive ~
Games, Sky Bet & Sky Vegas can be accessed here, I've never really used any of these so cant really comment on what they are like.
~ Parental ~
With two small children we make good use of the parental settings. We have been able to set a PIN code and to watch anything rated 12 years + the pin needs to be entered. There is also the options to remove adult content from the guide, so no adult channels will be displayed in the TV guides listing. Any channels can also be manually locked and only accessed when entering the pin. On the whole the parental channels work well, however I think Sky could do a little better as occasionally content can slip through.
~Options & Setting ~
These two tabs are where all the general settings are, such as subtitles, a list of favourite channels, TV telephone numbers and customise options.
~ HD ~
The box is HD ready, but a HD subscription needs to be purchased to access it. There are 78 HD channels in total, a large majority of which are for the Sky movies and Sky sports channels. I have found the HD channels to be brilliant, they are so much clearer, crisper and sharper. The box also has 3D capability, but as we don't have a 3D TV its not much use to us.
I have been really happy with the Sky+ box, especially considering we received it for free. We still have our old Sky box in our bedroom and I really do notice a huge difference between the two. Not only is the new HD box more sleeker and modern looking but it is also easier to navigate, it is faster and doesn't freeze like our old box does. It really is a great box and pretty much does everything we need it too. I do have a few minor niggles with it but on the whole I have been really pleased with it.
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Sky HD Box DRX595
When we purchased our first property together some four years ago now, my husband and I were keen to get the best TV package that we could find. We had in the past used Virgin but, having heard some great things about Sky we contacted them to see what their best deals were. Fortunately for us we were offered a good package which included ... a free SKY HD box. Therefore knowing how many great programmes that SKY broadcast we signed up on the spot and eagerly awaited the visit by our local SKY engineer to set things up.
~Product Looks and Dimensions~
When the SKY engineer came out to visit our property a couple of days later I was keen to see how the look of the Sky HD box would compare to our previous Virgin version. I have to admit that I really liked the look of this box which is modern with a masculine touch in my opinion and has a slightly sturdy feel. The predominant colour of this box is black and this black plastic forms the body of the box which is a matt finish making it less likely to show up fingerprints. On the front of the box is a curved stripe of silver and this serves to highlight the controls for this box with the playback button being a large circular button at the front of the box to clearly indicate whether a programme is being recorded or played. The sides of this box are punched with a number of ventilation holes which suggested to me that this box likes a lot of space to breathe and therefore when we positioned it inside our TV cabinet I did ensure that there was a large gap either side of the unit. In terms of dimensions this box measures 380mm wide by 72mm high by 243mm deep which made it the perfect size to fit within our Ikea television unit with adequate ventilation space.
In terms of technical details this box is designed to allow the user to watch a range of programmes and channels in high definition format. Obviously in order to do this you will need a HD compatible TV and the amount of channels which broadcast programmes in HD is limited although most channels now offer it in addition to their standard definition channel. The box also gives you the option to pause and rewind live TV which is always handy in my opinion when you want to take a quick trip to the toilet but don't want to miss what is happening. In addition to watching TV through this box you can also record up to 185 hours of standard definition television through this box or 60 hours of high definition. As we both have funny working hours we really use this facility a lot and what is even more helpful is the ability to download the Sky+App which enables us to control our recordings through our iPod when we are out and about. Sky claim that this box offers five times more picture detail, vibrant colours and superb sound and that it is also wi-fi enabled allowing you to connect it to any broadband router for on demand viewing.
One of the things which is critical to the use of this HD box is the remote that it comes with and you can also buy this from a number of stores including Robert Dyas in the event that it goes missing. You can control the box via the small buttons on the top and we occasionally change the channel on ours with the iPad however the remote really is a necessity for easy viewing. The remote is coloured in a black and silver theme to match that of the box and the buttons are all very clearly marked and have sufficient space between them to easily press the correct button. Our remote has begun to loose the marks on a couple of buttons such as the volume + and - markings which are beginning to disappear however I pretty much can use this control without looking at what I am doing having owned it for a number of years.
~Setting Up the Box~
When we were first visited by the Sky engineer we were fortunate that he set our box up for us together with the satellite dish and this meant that we had instant television that evening. However, since then we did purchase our Ikea television stand and therefore had to unplug the wires and reconnect the box to sit within the unit. In my experience this was relatively easy to do although we did mark each cable before disconnecting in order that we could be sure we put it back in the correct hole as there are quite a number of different cables which can be connected into the back. Starting at the left of the unit is the power cable and this plugs in to the mains ensuring that the box is powered. To the right of this are a pair of cables which connect the box to the satellite dish and in our house these cables come up through the wall of our lounge and give adequate length to position the box where we want it. Next to this is the HDTV cable which connects the box to the actual television and then there is a smaller cable which enables you to connect the box to the broadband router. Finally to the far right is a cable for connecting the box to the telephone line and this is a light grey cable unlike the other black cables which makes it obvious to assemble. Once everything is up and running a red light glows to the right of the front of the box and when switched on this light changes colour to green which is a nice indicator that the box is powered on.
When I first used our Sky box I remember being quite overwhelmed with the amount of buttons and controls that it came with however having now owned it for a number of years I really am a pro. When the box is switched on and the correct HDMI channel selected on the TV itself the box defaults automatically to the Sky channel which you can then change using the remote. In pressing the TV guide button on the top of the remote you are presented with a large blue screen which continues to play your programme in a small viewing screen in the top right hand corner. This guide area on the box is divided into various headings such as the 'what's on guide', 'on demand', 'search', 'planner', 'box office' and 'controls' which each enable you change the settings, record different programmes and search for your favourite programmes. One of the options I use the most is the search tab which is illustrated with a magnifying glass and this allows you to search through the upcoming programmes to find one that you have missed. Another tab that we use a great deal of is the planner one as this shows you what has been recorded during the week. Each programme is clearly displayed in a table format and shows you the status of the programme including whether it is yet to record, has been viewed or is yet to view and you can delete each one after watching using the yellow button on the remote itself. The amount of space available on the box is clearly illustrated using a lien and a percentage on the top of the screen and despite using our box to record a number fo hours of television we have yet to even get it full to half its capacity meaning that it is more than adequate for our viewing needs.
One of the first things that you have to do once getting the box home is to put a security code on it. This code is purely a precaution against those programmes with an adult content or for those occasions when you want to authorise watching a little extra such as a film from Sky box office which will be charged to your Sky account. In our case this is a four digit pin which we just use for those programmes we have recorded which have adult scenes and this is easy to do in my experience as a box flashes up to tell you to put the pin in.
Over the years I have owned this box I have been both impressed and annoyed with this box particularly as it is getting older. I have to say that this box does give excellent viewing and during times when I am watching a nature programme or documentary I am constantly blown away by the quality of the picture and the detail that I can see. The sound from this box is also excellent and I find that I can hear every detail of a programme and every instrument on the occasions when I am listening to a piece of background music. Some of these qualities can also be attributed to our television but without the use of the box to view HD programmes in the first place this really would be worthless. Another thing that I really enjoy using is the recording option on this box which we probably use practically everyday and this makes selecting what we want to watch easy and is very simple to set up with a series loop which enables you to record a series of programmes with the press of one button rather than finding them individually each week. Finally I must commend this box on the Sky+ application which enables us to view and record programmes remotely from our iPad which is a very convenient feature.
As this box is getting older I have noticed it becoming less responsive to the remote and this is one thing that really irritates me particularly in the morning. The box does have a tendency to occasionally freeze or only partly remote programmes and this is frustrating when you get up in the morning to find that something you were looking forward to watching has not been recorded. There have been times in the past few weeks where I have had to turn off box and start again and this takes time for it to load up again which is annoying. In addition, the remote which began its life working very efficiently, has now started to be selective about which buttons work with the volume and mute buttons now being completely void.
~Price and Availability~
As we received this box free through Sky I really believe that this was an excellent deal and one which has given us endless hours of great viewing. However I understand that these boxes can also be purchased independently online from as little as £45 from EBay which makes it a good investment in my opinion.
~Summary and Recommendations~
Overall I would have to say that this is a box which has offered us excellent viewing over the years we have owned it and quite a good variety of different programmes which we have enjoyed viewing. I cannot fault this box for the high definition viewing it gives together with the great sound quality. Where this unit does fail in my opinion is in its shelf life and as ours is beginning to play up I do question how much longer we will continue to use it before we try and get a new box through Sky.
All in all this HD box has given us much enjoyment and consequently it does come recommended. Based on my comments in this slightly long winded review this box scores a good four stars from me.
I hope this review has been of some help and thanks for reading! x
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Sky HD Box DRX595
A couple of months before Christmas I saw a great offer on hotukdeals which was telling us that Sky customers could get their multi room package for half price for twelve months and this included free installation of the Sky HD DRX595 box and £40 cashback through Quidco. As I had been considering getting multi room in for my bedroom it ... seemed a perfect time to try it out and this is my review of the product.
The Sky man came to install the Sky HD box for me and had to do some wiring from the opposite side of the room to where the box is situated as the dish is by my window but my TV is on the other side. He did this pretty neatly although it is a thick black wire and so it stands out a bit against my cream walls and woodwork! The box was neatly packed in a white cardboard box which he did leave with me after the install with some extra wires in there which weren't compatible with my old television.
The box is a really sleek looking black piece of kit which certainly looks much better than my large Sky+ box which I have downstairs. It is certainly more slimline than I thought it would have been and so he placed the box on top of my DVD player which is on top of my television! It is probably just over half the length of the DVD player but a bit taller. It has the Sky HD wording on the top front of the box but this isn't too intrusive with the black sleek look of the box on the whole. There is a button for power and changing the channels on the front of the box should you lose the remote which is so important because I seem to always lose the remote at some point or another in my bed!
The box is connected to my television via a skart lead but there is also the option to connect via a HDMI cable which the engineer did leave me with but as my TV in my bedroom is a bit old I don't have that function but he said he would leave me with the wire just in case I get a new television any time and want to set it up like that. The sections on the back are all colour coded so that you can easily spot where things go which I think is good. I should mention that the power cable is of a reasonable length to plug in but it isn't going to go all the way round your room or anything. Mine is plugged in to a four way extension cable with the television and DVD player.
What I did love was that the engineer set it up so that the main Sky HD remote worked completely with my television and that he took the time to explain this to me. Basically the remote is now multi functional and will switch my television on as well as control the Sky features on the box. The remote is decent I must point out and very responsive so I can easily alter the volume, change channels or look on the interactive services such as box office should I want to.
When you switch on the Sky box a green light comes on the front of the box and it is good to note that after a period of inactivity it will automatically go to sleep saving you electricity if you fall asleep with it on or something. Once the box is on you are able to work your way through the Sky HD menu which does look different to the menu on a normal Sky or Sky+ box but it is something I did get used to quite quickly and the only real difference is the way you scroll through channels and the colours used really.
There are various HD specific channels which come with this box but as I said my TV is pretty old so I haven't been able to make use of those, plus I don't really want to pay an extra £10 a month for the privilege anyway when I think the pictures are perfectly fine for me to watch now anyway.
I am impressed with the whole Sky HD DRX595 box if I am honest. I like the way that it is a bit smaller and more sleek in design than the Sky+ box I have downstairs and I think it fits in with many modern electronics now with it being glossy and black. I also like how it has large vents at the sides which are obviously exposed to the air as this seems to stop the box from getting too hot unlike my Sky+ box which does get hot! I think this is a quality piece of kit and considering it was fitted for free and that I am paying £60 for the multiroom service with it for the year but then getting £40 cash back I think it has been a very good investment indeed!
Thank you for reading my review!
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Amstrad Set Top Box
Brand: Amstrad / Type: Set Top Box - Sky Plus HD Digibox / HDMI, SCART, USB, e-SATA, Ethernet, SPDIF Digital Coaxial, Composite Video (1x Cinch), SPDIF Digital Optical
Brand: Sky / Type: Set Top Box - SKY HD BOX
Brand: Amstrad / Type: Set Top Box - SKY HD BOX
Brand: Amstrad / Type: Set Top Box - SKY HD BOX
Brand: Amstrad / Type: Set Top Box
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